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Steady growth for Twitter, despite hiccups

Many users of the microblogging service appear to be unruffled by Twitter's technical issues--and their enthusiasm is spreading.

Fans of microblogging service Twitter are apparently impervious to repeated outages and technical problems--and their enthusiasm is spreading.

Research firm Hitwise on Tuesday reported that traffic to the Twitter site increased 500 percent the week ending July 5, 2008, compared with the same period last year. That's a significant jump for a service that's continually up and down--and still lacking a clear revenue stream.

What's more, many users of the service appear to be unruffled by Twitter's technical issues. The share of returning visitors has averaged approximately 53 percent over the past four months, according to Hitwise.

Twitter also still has a leg up over its few rivals in the microblogging space. Twitter traffic last week was 12 times higher than that of Plurk and 24 times higher than FriendFeed, Hitwise says. So even though Tweeters may be getting restless, not all of them are abandoning the service in favor of similar finds.

"Despite user complaints about outages, Twitter has remained the most popular among the micro-blogging services," Hitwise said in a statement.

Earlier Tuesday, rumors escalated that Twitter was in the throes of buying Summize, a Twitter search engine. Neither Twitter nor Summize have commented on speculation of a possible merger.